Lynn Torres LISD Superintendent

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions made hastily in January. For me, back to school has always been the place for resolutions and fresh starts.

The pencils and school supplies are barely out on the shelves at Walmart, and I walk the aisles looking for the new pencil or next journal that I don’t really need.

I am excited about school being around the corner and the smell of new crayons in the air. Corny, I know, but who can help themselves? Everyone starts with a clean slate and is eager to learn.

Teachers have rested and have a fresh outlook on what they need to do to ensure every student’s success. Each classroom is full of students who are anxious to make new friends, learn something new and solidify new beginnings.

We welcomed our students back to Lufkin ISD on Wednesday, and no one was more excited than I was, even on my 44th first day of school.

Campuses rolled out the red carpet and members from the community, Mayor Bob Brown, our city of Lufkin Fire Department, Lufkin ISD board members, church members from a multitude of churches, Angelina College basketball players, Lufkin High School baseball players and many more came to welcome our students.

We cannot help but say again what a supportive and giving community we live in.

At convocation on Tuesday, you could feel the excitement in the air. We welcomed new staff to the Panther family. We saw old friends, colleagues, former students who are now teachers, retired teachers, students in the Panther band, LHS drill team, LHS cheerleading squad, Elementary Honor Choir and the Lufkin Panthers football team.

More vendors than ever before filled the convention center. We held drawings throughout the event from our vendors to award prizes to our employees.

As if door prizes were not enough, we celebrated long overdue raises and the support of our board of trustees and state Rep. Trent Ashby.

Brown supported our staff and discussed the important role we play as the largest employer in the area. All public school employees have challenging jobs, but “What a great day to be a Lufkin Panther!”

Our speaker was Gary Guller, the first man without an arm to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2003, he led a group of people with varying physical challenges to the base camp on Everest, a quest that lasted 22 days. He reminded us not to be afraid of our next challenge, whatever that might be.

This was also the week that accountability ratings were released across the state. Yes, our rating only shows what we did on those few days of testing, but it is still a rating to be celebrated. No school or district receives a rating or grade without hard work.

I am proud of our district rating of 89, and we will continue our work to make each child show progress and be successful. We also received distinctions this week. Our campus distinctions also should be celebrated.

The distinctions are a measure of how well each campus performed among 40 campuses across the state comparable in size, demographics and economic status. In many areas, our campuses finished first, second or third among those comparison groups.

I hope you are as excited as we are in Lufkin ISD that school has started. We appreciate your support and commitment to the students in Lufkin. We will continue to ensure that all students receive a quality education and are ready for their next steps.

Join me in resolving to celebrate our students, teachers and district. Begin something new yourself. Take on your next challenge and always remember that “Great Minds Think Alike” and Choose Lufkin ISD.